One aspect of Yoga Sādhana is that it is ultimately about a maturing of our relationship with all aspects of on the mat Yoga practice, rather than just that of our Āsana practice. This is especially important as these various aspects sit within a hierarchical spiral with one level being the foundation, technical reference point, verification and ladder for the next.
We only have to study and reflect on the Yoga Sūtra to appreciate this relationship dynamic. Yet it increasingly appears that for many today the word ‘advancing’ in terms of on the mat practice means tackling increasingly complex Āsana or Āsana choreographies to the neglect or even detriment of what are seen as the levels that Āsana aims to prepare us to engage in.
Krishnamacharya understood this relationship dynamic and offered many teachings, tools and practices to help link the student to and in their upward ascent of the practice spiral. It will be a misunderstanding and misrepresentation if he is remembered only as the ‘father’ of modern Āsana.
However in this age of students catching Āsana classes within large sticky oriented groups on the way to, from or in their lunchtime, as an alternative to the gym I wonder. For example, choosing to spend more time in Prāṇāyāma than Āsana is not that appealing as a transformative tool. Yet this is what Krishnamacharya intended as our personal Yoga practice matures.
For example he taught that as our practice matures the student needs to spend twice as long with their Prāṇāyāma element of their practice as with their Āsana element. In this age of dominance of physical cultural activities or meditational mindbite practices I wonder.
This is further complicated by the fact that a maturation of the fruits of Prāṇāyāma takes many years to appreciate. Thats how it is, some plants grow and show their fruits quickly and some take years to mature and blossom, Prāṇāyāma belongs to the latter.
“Only through Yoga Yoga is known,
Only through Yoga Yoga changes.
One who is patient at Yoga,
Over a long time enjoys the fruits.”
– Vyāsa commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 6
Do we have a real and biding interest in these deeper practices of Yoga? With this abiding interest do we have the commitment, intention, patience and perseverance to spend years gardening with the techniques and practices of Prāṇāyāma in order to enjoy the fruits?
Finally, there are many, many resources within all levels of live or virtual media sources to explore the practices of Āsana. Do we have the same teaching resources to support our exploration of Prāṇāyāma? Here perhaps we are starting to pay the price of generations of Āsana dominant classes and resources?